Murray adds spark to 'Ember'

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Bill Murray has signed on to star in Walden Media's "City of Ember," which marks Gil Kenan's live-action follow-up to "Monster House." The cast also includes newcomer Saoirse Ronan and Toby Jones.

Murray will play the larger-than-life mayor of Ember, a city that flourished for generations in an amazing world of glittering lights. But Ember's once-powerful generator is failing, and the great lamps that illuminate the city are starting to flicker. Now, two teenagers must search Ember for clues that will unlock the ancient mystery of the city's existence and help the citizens escape before the lights go out forever.

Ronan will play one of the teenagers, and Jones will portray Barton Snode, the mayor of Ember's right-hand man.

Caroline Thompson adapted the screenplay, which is based on Jeanne DuPrau's book.

Shooting will begin in the summer in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in a converted hangar that served as the construction site for the original Titanic. Playtone's Gary Goetzman and Tom Hanks are producing, with John Schofield executive producing.

Walden's Alex Schwartz and Bonnie Solomon are overseeing the project for the company.

20th Century Fox will release "Ember" under the Fox Walden banner — the joint marketing venture between 20th Century Fox and Walden Media — on Oct. 10, 2008. Summit Entertainment is handling international sales for the film.

Walden's Jess Wittenberg and Jim Meenaghan negotiated the deals on behalf of the company.

Murray, whose recent credits include "Broken Flowers," "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" and "Lost in Translation," is repped by attorney David Nochimson.

Jones, a frequent character actor who recently landed the role of Swifty Lazar in the upcoming big-screen adaptation of "Frost/Nixon," also has appeared in "The Painted Veil," "Amazing Grace" and "Mrs. Henderson Presents." He is represented by UTA.

Ronan's filmography includes the Keira Knightley starrer "Atonement." She is repped by CAA.
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